U Visa crime victims
In 2000, the U.S. government announced a new visa category called the U Visa. This visa can help people who may have entered this country without authorization, stayed here for many years without documentation, and/or may have also committed some crime in the past here in this country and therefore do not qualify for other types of immigration applications.
Six legal requirements for U Visa non-immigrant status
- Applicant must have been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity.
- The applicant must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of these criminal activities.
- Applicant must have information concerning that criminal activity.
- The applicant must have been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
- The criminal activity occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws.
- Applicant is admissible to the United States under current U.S. immigration laws and regulations. Those who are not admissible, may apply for a waiver on a Form I-192, Application for Advance Permission to Enter as a Non-Immigrant.
Beginning the process
The U Visa process begins with applying to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS does not charge any fees to apply for the U Visa. It is necessary to include with the application: a description of what happened, proof of the injuries from the crime, both physically and emotionally, and a certification from someone in the court system or police confirming that you have tried to assist in the process.
Positive aspects of the U Visa include the fact that there is a pardon for people who, for example, entered the country illegally, are in the country illegally, and/or have committed some crimes in the past. Individuals who qualify for the visa may live in the United States legally, with permission to work for 3 year. After that they may apply for permanent residence. If one qualifies for the U Visa, family members can also qualify.
Because of all the benefits of this visa, anyone who has ever been a victim of crime in the U.S. should consult with an immigration professional to see if they qualify for U visa status.